Sunday Reads: Drug and Guns, Shop and Go

Sunday by Johanna Harmon

Sunday by Johanna Harmon found on Pinterest

Good Morning

During my time off, while driving around Banjoville one day with my dad, he pointed out a road sign to me that he knew would get my goat.

He also knew it would be something I probably would talk about here on the blog, take pictures of in fact, and share it with you….of course he was right.

So here beneath the redneck woods, in the haze of blue mountains, amid the squeals of pigs, there is one shop that can meet your need of class III weaponry and fill that prescription of Abilify as well…

Check out this picture below, Sign reads:

McCaysville Drug & Gun
Guns. Ammo. Accessories
Class III Dealer. Prescriptions

Sign reads:

Yeah. I know the picture is not the greatest, it is from my camera phone and it was taken on the move…but you can definitely get the full scope of the situation here. I don’t want to link to the website, and get hammered by gun nuts, trolls or whatnot, but you can find it if you wish by looking it up on your own: mccaysville drug center dot com. The irony of it all, the drug center health mart web page…with this sentence up front and center: YES!  We have guns and drugs!

Hey, if it works for them…fine. But I just think there has to be something fucked up about selling big ass guns at a place that also carries prescription drugs. No, these aren’t the kind of guns they sell at wallyworld btw…these are, “kill every muthafukker in the room” guns:

Now…just how hard is it to get a Class 3 weapon?  Will Hayden: How to Buy Class 3 Weapons

  • Class 3 firearms include machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, suppressors, destructive devices and Any Other Weapons (AOWs).
  • The tax for privately manufacturing any class 3 firearms is $200. Transferring requires a $200 tax for all class 3s except AOW’s, for which the transfer tax is $5.
  • To legally possess a class 3 weapon you must complete a transfer of registration within the NFA registry.
  • There are two ways for you to legally buy a class 3 gun. The first is by transfer after approval by ATF of a registered weapon from its lawful owner residing in the same State as the transferee. The second is by obtaining prior approval from ATF to make NFA firearms.

As for getting that dealer license to sell those class III firearms, well…there is nothing at the ATF website that says you can’t also have prescription drugs sold on the premises, nor is there any info on this during the application process.

Alright, so there’s that.

Now for some newsy items. I knew the Fukushima radiation disaster wasn’t going to be a problem for the IOC: Tokyo selected to host 2020 Summer Olympics – The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room

In seven years, all eyes will be on Tokyo.

The International Olympic Committee voted to send the 2020 Summer Olympics to the Japanese capital on Saturday.

The city beat out Madrid and Istanbul to host the international sporting games.

Forget steroids and enhancement drugs…the athletes will have that special glow in the dark kind of doping they can only get with radiation as high as 2,200 millisieverts (mSv). You think there are British swimmers known for their large “shark fin” noses now? Just imagine what some Godzilla sized rays of nuclear contamination will do to that schnoz.

In other Olympic news: Olympic sports will learn their fate on Sunday | McClatchy

After months of campaigning, revamping and strategic positioning, international federations for wrestling, squash and baseball/softball will find out Sunday if their sports will have Olympic life.

All three will go through a second round of presentations, hoping to earn a place in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The decision, which will be made in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by the International Olympic Committee’s General Assembly around 10 a.m. Colorado time, comes seven months after wrestling was removed from the IOC’s list of summer Games core sports.

The February ouster prompted wrestling’s international governing body FILA to make possibly the most aggressive changes to its sport among the three finalists that will present their cases before the IOC on Sunday morning.

“We found the strength to change,” said Nenad Lalovic, who took over as president of FILA in February.

The change proved effective as wrestling got new life May 29 when the IOC whittled a field of eight sports to three finalists. The sports that didn’t make the cut were karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.

Remember, pole dancing is one of the new “sports” competing for a slot in the games.

I am now going to quickly give you some links on a few disturbing issues dealing with the collective war on women.

First two stories on rape, but both are bullshit…and really piss me off.

‘Were you wearing a bra?’ Rape accuser at US Naval Academy faces aggressive and withering questioning on the hearing stand | The Raw Story

The pre-trial hearings in a military courtroom at the U.S. Naval Academy have exposed a Navy midshipman who has accused three academy football players of rape to pointed cross-examination of the kind a civilian accuser wouldn’t face, according to news reports covering the case.

Under defense questioning over the last four days, the accuser has been asked by defense attorneys how wide she opens her mouth during oral sex, how many times a day she lies, whether or not she was wearing underwear or a bra, and other questions that experts interviewed by the Washington Post say would never be allowed in a civilian courtroom.

[…]

Her attorney, Susan Burke, filed suit Thursday against the academy and Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller on her client’s behalf, arguing that the timing and nature of the cross-examination were a form of retaliation directed by Miller. Burke is seeking a court order compelling Miller to refrain from further interference in the case.

The suit alleges that “the Superintendent wanted to sweep the matter under the rug to prevent any reputational harm to the Academy,” and assured her client that “the investigation likely would just ‘go away’ if she signed a declination and refused to cooperate.”

Under pressure from the school and one of the football players, the accuser did not cooperate with an initial investigation but was subsequently ostracized and retaliated against by the football players and the Naval Academy community, Burke said in earlier statements. The academy subsequently disciplined her client for drinking. The accuser sought legal help and the attention of the media in early 2013 and the Navy reopened the investigation, Burke said.

The case stems from charges leveled in June 2012 against three U.S. Naval Academy football players charged with raping a female midshipman and making false statements. The Article 32 proceeding determines if the charges will proceed to a general court-martial. The accuser, a 21-year-old midshipman at the academy who has not been named in major media reports, alleges that she was raped after getting drunk and passing out at an off-campus party in April 2012 in Annapolis, Maryland, site of the elite school.

Burke said in a statement earlier this year that her client “woke up at the football house the next morning with little recall of what had occurred. She learned from friends and social media that three football players were claiming to have had sexual intercourse with her while she was incapacitated.”

Oh, but this is not the only rape case in the news today dealing with college football players, check this out: Disturbing Allegations Emerge In Vanderbilt Rape Case

Further details have come out concerning the June 23 rape of a 21-year-old woman that led to the dismissal of four Vanderbilt football players, including junior college transfer, Brandon Vandenburg. According to a report from BuzzFeed, the incident was worse than previously reported and at least one source believes head coach James Franklin tried to cover it up.

In August, Vandenburg and three others—Brandon Banks, JaBorian McKenzie, and Cory Batey—were charged with five counts each of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. The alleged rape occurred in Gillette House on the Vanderbilt campus, where a second-floor door was destroyed—seemingly kicked in—and security footage showed a stream of men entering and exiting a room. Then Vandenburg threw a towel over the camera.

It’s believed the woman was raped in the room and then moved while the camera was obscured. The woman was reportedly unconscious while Vandenburg had sex with her. After the other three players entered the room, she was penetrated with random objects. Vandenburg recorded and took pictures. The woman had no recollection of any of it until she began to hear about the pictures and video. An attorney who has seen the video told BuzzFeed that there is “a strong racial component” to the footage, without elaborating.

Here is the kicker:

A source close to one of the dismissed players thinks coach Franklin urged one of the players to delete a video after viewing it.

I’m 99.9 percent sure that Franklin saw the video,” the source said. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if the public finds this out soon.”

“Coach Franklin denies that emphatically,” said Hal Hardin, Franklin’s attorney. “People always speculate and gossip. There is no truth to that accusation whatsoever. It’s inflammatory.”

Three other men—including suspended wide receiver, Chris Boyd—were later indicted for allegedly urging Vandenburg to delete the video and deleting the video and photos from their own phones.

Franklin has turned the team into a “winning” team, from what I can see…he’s given the university its first successful season in a long time. According to USA Today, Franklin made over 1.8 million in 2011, and it is speculated that his contract over the next few years will be substantially higher. He isn’t going anywhere, and you can bet he will be protected by the administration. However, I am not sure what to make of this bit from the buzzfeed link:

Franklin’s self-described “extreme personality” is the marvel of players and fans alike. His voluble nature has also garnered unwanted headlines. During a radio interview last June, he said that he doesn’t hire an assistant coach until he sees his wife. “If she looks the part, and she’s a D-1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. That’s part of the deal.”

On Twitter, Franklin, who has more than 24,000 followers, backpedaled from the comment: “My foot does not taste good, I hope I did not offend any1, I love and respect ALL, have a great day, enjoy the fam & don’t forget to #AnchorDown,” citing the Commadores’ de facto slogan — which Franklin came up with and popularized.

Other woman’s issues links:

Texas truck customizer advertises with image of abducted, hog-tied woman | The Raw Story

Truck with abducted woman via screencap

Residents in Waco, TX are angry over a company’s decision to advertise with a realistic depiction of an abducted and hog-tied woman in a truck bed. According to KTEM News, sign-making and marketing firm Hornet Signs designed the truck decal for an employee’s vehicle to advertise its car wrap services.

“I wasn’t expecting the reactions that we got,” said Hornet Signs owner Brad Kolb. “Nor was it anything we condone or anything else, but it was just something more or less that we just had to put out there and see who notices it.”

Some people noticed the vehicle in traffic and called police.

Kolb said that the woman on the decal is an employee who agreed to be photographed and that orders for car wraps and decals have gone up since the sign hit the streets.

Geez, WTF?

Meanwhile, in my state of Georgia, this is happening: Ga. PSC may give $10K fine to anti-abortion group | AccessNorthGa

Two elected utility regulators in Georgia want to give a $10,000 fine from a telephone company to a religious anti-abortion charity with past financial ties to one of the officials, a proposal that the attorney general’s office is calling unconstitutional. But the state attorney general has thrown cold water on the idea.

Under a settlement, Peerless Network of Georgia LLC will pay a $10,000 penalty for failing to file required reports. Civil penalties usually go to Georgia’s state treasury.

Instead, Public Service Commissioner H. Doug Everett proposed this week that the telephone company pay the penalty as a contribution to the Atlanta branch of Care Net, where his wife works as unpaid volunteer. The organization is a Christian charity that discourages women from having abortions. It offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and baby supplies to expectant mothers, according to its website and tax filings.

[…]

Emails released under Georgia’s open records law show that the attorney general’s office has cautioned that state regulators do not have the authority to approve such a deal. In an Aug. 29 email, Senior Assistant Attorney General Daniel Walsh wrote that the Public Service Commission can allow violators to make alternate settlements rather than paying fines, such as by offering consumer refunds or funding training to prevent natural gas accidents.

“Here, I don’t see a plausible connection between a utility regulation and a pregnancy center,” Walsh wrote.

After utility regulators ignored that advice, Attorney General Sam Olens wrote them a letter Wednesday warning that the plan violated Georgia’s state constitution.

“Despite the obvious good intentions of those expressing an interest in a settlement agreement that would provide funds to various non-profit organizations, the law simply does not permit such a result,” Olens wrote.

Everett said there is a legitimate tie. Peerless admitted in filings that it failed to comply with several rules, including procedures to ensure the confidentiality of family violence shelters. Everett said Care Net assists pregnant women who are abused and need shelter, although it does not operate any shelter services itself. Peerless officials did not return a call seeking comment.

“I can’t understand why this one was singled out,” Everett said.

Allowing the company to make a donation to Care Net rather than paying a fine to the state could raise questions over the constitutional separation of church and state. Care Net says on its website that its mission includes, “Sharing the truth that Jesus Christ offers thereby making voluntary pregnancy termination unnecessary and undesirable.”

When I read this article, I felt physically ill. 10 fucking thousand dollars. Unbelievable! I want to scream into my pillow as I write this. Ugh.

Here is a good link for you though, something to work on and work toward: Where We Go From Here… #HB2 – Jessica W. Luther

People want to do stuff. People are itching to be active, to participate, to rally, to…DO.

Everyone is going to have their own opinion on what we should be DOING at this point. And I’m great with that. The fact is, we should all be doing whatever we are comfortable with, what we have the time to do, etc.

So, I’d like to just start a conversation about it. I AM NOT – by any means – some kind of expert on this. My only real organizing was at the Texas capitol this summer, a bathing in the fire.

If you have ideas that I should add to this list, please leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Take a look at Jessica’s list, it is detailed and a great place to start…oh, Ralph and Mona, be sure to pass it on your friends in Texas!

This post is long, and it is already after 2:30 in the morning and I want to go to bed, the rest of the morning’s reads will be in link dump fashion.  We will go in chronological order, okay?

A Castellan Claims his Castles: Textualization of Claims in Eleventh-Century Aquitaine By Indrayani Battle

The Conventum inter Guillelmum Aquitanorum Comitem et Hugonem Chilarchum is a 340-line, highly descriptive document of claims, counter-claims, and often violent conflicts, all revolving around property, between Hugh of Lusignan and Count William of Aquitaine, written by an unidentified author and scribe. This eleventh-century document is written in a conversational mode, largely using direct speech, and from a secular perspective, since both parties are lay lords. It is the textualization, or the writing down, of a series of events and oral transactions of the demands of Hugh for the properties he claimed by right of inheritance, either directly or by proximity to his kin. The textualization allowed the author to control the information that was incorporated into the text, thereby to be passed into the future. While historians have called the document highly unusual, because of its length, because of its direct speech, because of its one-sided portrayal of events, and because there is no comparative document from the region, they nevertheless study the document for lord-vassal relationships of the eleventh century. However, the question of why the document was written has still not been adequately answered, although a few historians have put forward their assertions of the document as literature rather than history. These assertions seem largely based on the Conventum’s grammatical or narrative structure, which are only a part of its textualization.

…the importance of the document lies in this textualization of legal claims as understood in the moral standards and accepted norms of conduct in the eleventh century, all of which provide the events therein with legal validity and thus, by extension, to the agreement itself. This type of evaluation allows the text to take its place with other legal documents of the early-eleventh century. I further maintain that Hugh had the document written to formalize his claims, not only against Count William of Aquitaine but also against Count Fulk Nerra of Anjou, since most of the lands that Hugh claimed were under men commended to Anjou.

To do this I examine the importance of land, its role in the attainment of personal power, its role in the identity-formation of a family, the methods of its acquisition, the disputes around its inheritance and ownership, and the methods of dispute settlement, including the role of violence. In the upheavals of the early eleventh century, textualization of land holdings and their dispute settlements provided a permanent record for family identity and for the legal procedures that were employed. The thesis also examines the geo-political implication for the setting of the Conventum, the power struggle between the Counts William and Fulk, and the possession of allodial or free lands and their added influence on the bargaining power of the lords. Then, I trace the importance of textualization as a continuation of the documentation process already prevalent under the Carolingians. Subsequently, it is necessary to look at some of the words and portrayed events that indicate the use of customary procedures by Hugh in making his claims. The thesis also examines the oath of fidelity to see how the relationship of a lord and his man was defined, how the oath affected the conduct of each to the other, and its implications in the ongoing debate over the lord-vassal relationship and thus the feudalization of eleventh-century social structure.

Click here to read this thesis from North Carolina State University

Keep those themes of legal argument and documents and such…and the use of words and language in mind.

On to the next link, Richard III had stomach worms, research reveals – This Britain – UK – The Independent

Richard III suffered from a roundworm infection, according to research carried out on his skeleton.

The remains of the king, who ruled England from 1483-85, were discovered last year under a  council car park in Leicester.

Cambridge University researchers used a powerful microscope to examine soil samples from his pelvis and skull as well as soil surrounding the grave.

They found multiple roundworm eggs in the pelvis sample. But there was no sign of eggs in soil from the skull and few around the grave, suggesting a roundworm infection rather than contamination by later dumping of human waste in the area.

Damn, not only did he suffer Scoliosis, have a club foot and other maladies, but he had worms too!

From World Wide Words Newsletter: 7 Sep 2013 There are two cool entries for you:

Asparagus

The name of this delightful vegetable has swung from classical Latin to rustic reinvention and back during its history in English.

It first appears in English around 1000. Its name was taken from medieval Latin sparagus but by the sixteenth century it had come sperach or sperage. It might well have stayed like that had it not been for herbalists, who knew the classical Latin name was asparagus, itself borrowed from the Greek. Their influence meant that that name became quite widely known during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries alongside the older names. Nicholas Culpeper, for example, headed an entry in his herbal of 1653 as “Asparagus, Sparagus, or Sperage”, thus covering all bases.

Non-scholars had trouble with asparagus and did what the medieval Latin writers had done — leave off the unstressed initial vowel, so making it sparagus again. But they went one step further, converting it by folk etymology into forms that seemed to make more sense, either sparagrass or sparrowgrass. The latter form became common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries:

So home, and having brought home with me from Fenchurch Street a hundred of sparrowgrass, cost 18d.

Diary, by Samuel Pepys, 20 April 1667.

In the eighteenth century sparrowgrass was so much the standard and polite term that John Walker commented in his Critical Pronouncing Dictionary in 1791: “‘Sparrow-grass’ is so general that ‘asparagus’ has an air of stiffness and pedantry”.

I guess you would say asparagus with the pinky finger raised?

Curry favour

Q From Patrick Martin: As I gave the cat its supper, I said to my wife that I was doing it to curry favour with the cat. Out of curiosity I looked curry up in the two-volume Oxford dictionary to see where this expression comes from. The explanation involved a chestnut horse. This seems a bit far-fetched. Is there a better explanation?

A Believe it or not, the explanation is correct. But then, it’s an odd phrase — why should curry have anything to do with winning the favour of somebody or ingratiating oneself with him?

Its origin lies in a French medieval allegorical poem called the Roman de Fauvel, written by Gervais de Bus and Chaillou de Pesstain in the early 1300s. Fauvel was a horse, a conniving stallion, and the poem is a satire on the corruption of social life. He decided he didn’t like his stable and moved into his master’s house, becoming the master and being visited by church leaders and politicians who sought his favour.

That is some horse!

There are several layers of meaning in his name: fauve is French for a colour variously translated as chestnut, reddish-yellow, tawny or fawn. A close English equivalent is the rather rare fallow, as in fallow deer, an animal with a brownish coat (it may be that uncultivated ground is also said to be fallow because it looks that colour). Fauve is also a collective name, originally les bêtes fauves, for a class of wild animals whose coats are tawny, such as lions and tigers, and hence ferocious wild animals (the fauverie in a French zoo houses the big cats). In the poem, the name Fauvel can moreover be glossed as fau-vel, a veiled lie, but it is actually a partial acronym of the initial letters of the French words for six sins: flatterie, avarice, vilenie, variété, envie, and lâcheté (flattery, avarice, depravity, fickleness, envy and cowardice). His colour also evokes the old medieval proverbial belief that a fallow horse was a symbol of dishonesty.

The poem was well known among educated people in Britain, who began to refer to Fauvel, variously spelled, as a symbol of cunning and depravity. That soon became curry Favel. This curry has nothing to do with Indian food (a word that came into English only at the end of the sixteenth century via Portuguese from Tamil kari, a sauce or relish) but is another ancient word from a French source, still common in English, which means to rub down or comb a horse. The idea behind currying Favel is that the horse was highly susceptible to flattery, figuratively a kind of stroking.

For people who didn’t know the poem — then, as now, that was almost everybody — Fauvel or Favel meant nothing. Favour seemed much more sensible a word and by the early part of the sixteenth century popular etymology had changed it and so it has remained ever since.

Alright, now a book review link: Brief Review of “The Great Dissent” by Thomas Healy (UPDATED) | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy

“The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind–and Changed the History of Free Speech in America” by law professor Thomas Healy.

…the book is a lively read, and provides a good amount of interesting information about Holmes in general, and how he came to be (rather suddenly, after having not been at all) a champion of judicial protection of freedom of speech.

Want to read David Bernstein’s complaints about Healy’s book…go check out the rest of the review at the link above.

Finally, Virgin Galactic Broke The Sound Barrier and the Footage is Pretty Stunning [Video] Did anyone else just hear the Star Trek song start playing in their head? | Geekosystem

Wanna know what it’s like to sit on the back of a rocket ship and watch as it breaks the sound barrier? Because for their recent test of SpaceShipTwo’s reentry systems, Virgin Galactic stuck a camera onto the tail of the rocket and recorded its ascent into orbit. This is one of those videos you need to watch in 1080p — trust us, it’s worth the load time.

Y’all have a wonderful Sunday, please stop and let us know what you are reading and thinking about today.


Independence Day Reads

4th of July and NSA

Good Morning!!

So Egyptians staged a whole lot of protests and with the help of the army, overthrew the president they elected about a year ago. From the Boston Globe: Egypt’s army ousts Morsi, who calls it a ‘coup’

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s first democratically elected president was overthrown by the military Wednesday, ousted after just one year in office by the same kind of Arab Spring uprising that brought the Islamist leader to power.

The armed forces announced they would install a temporary civilian government to replace Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who denounced the action as a ‘‘full coup’’ by the generals. They also suspended the Islamist-drafted constitution and called for new elections.

Millions of anti-Morsi protesters around the country erupted in celebrations after the televised announcement by the army chief. Fireworks burst over crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where men and women danced, shouting, ‘‘God is great’’ and ‘‘Long live Egypt.’’

That sure sounds like coup. The army overthrows an elected leader and appoints a new one, while suspending the constitution. What else would you call it? And then there’s this:

The army took control of state media and blacked out TV stations operated by the Muslim Brotherhood. The head of the Brotherhood’s political wing was arrested.

It’s like Groundhog Day. A year from now will the whole thing happen all over again?

Morsi Dud by Jeff Darcy

From BBC News: Egypt swears in Mansour as interim leader after Morsi ousted

The top judge of Egypt’s Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmud Mansour, has been sworn in as interim leader, a day after the army ousted President Mohammed Morsi and put him under house arrest.

Mr Mansour said fresh elections were “the only way” forward, but gave no indication of when they would be held.

Mr Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, is under house arrest after what he says was a military coup.

The army said he had “failed to meet the demands of the people”.

So it’s as if the Pentagon overthrew President Obama and installed Chief Justice Roberts as temporary president, while at the same time suspending the Constitution and shutting down the media.

The Dark Side of Egyptian “Revolution”

There’s also another similarity to the previous Egyptian “revolution” an outbreak of sexual assaults and gang rapes targeting women in public. From Human Rights Watch:

Egyptian officials and political leaders across the spectrum should condemn and take immediate steps to address the horrific levels of sexual violence against women in Tahrir Square. Egyptian anti-sexual harassment groups confirmed that mobs sexually assaulted and in some cases raped at least 91 women in Tahrir Square, over four days of protests beginning on June 30, 2013, amid a climate of impunity.

“The rampant sexual attacks during the Tahrir Square protests highlight the failure of the government and all political parties to face up to the violence that women in Egypt experience on a daily basis in public spaces,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These are serious crimes that are holding women back from participating fully in the public life of Egypt at a critical point in the country’s development.”

The Egyptian group Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault, which runs a hotline for victims of sexual assault and seeks to intervene to stop attacks, has received scores of reports of attacks on women in Tahrir Square over the past three days. The group confirmed 46 attacks on June 30, 17 on July 1, and 23 on July 2. The group’s volunteers intervened to protect and evacuate women in 31 cases of sexual assault. Four of the women needed medical assistance, including two who were evacuated by ambulance. The women’s rights group Nazra for Feminist Studies had confirmed another five attacks on June 28.

One woman required surgery after being raped with a “sharp object,” volunteers with the group said. In other cases, women were beaten with metal chains, sticks, and chairs, and attacked with knives. In some cases they were assaulted for as long as 45 minutes before they were able to escape.

Please go read the rest at Human Rights Watch.

At CNN, writer Nina Burleigh puts the sexual violence in Egypt in the historical context of male efforts to control women’s access to the public sphere.

Last week, a 22-year-old Dutch journalist was gang-raped in Tahrir Square and had to undergo surgery for severe injuries. The assault reminds us yet again of an often overlooked aspect of the Egyptian revolution.

When Egyptians overthrew their dictator in 2011, one of the first celebratory acts in Tahrir Square included the gang beating and sexual assault of American journalist Lara Logan, who, like the Dutch journalist, landed in the hospital.

The Logan rape has always been portrayed as another unfortunate byproduct of mob violence. In fact, it was much more than that. It was a warning shot fired by men whose political beliefs are founded on a common pillar: Women must stay out of the public square.

One of the hallmarks of revolutionary victory in Tahrir Square has always been rape and sexual harassment. Mobs of men routinely set upon women, isolating, stripping and groping. No one is ever arrested or held accountable, and elected officials shrug their shoulders and blame the victims….

Egyptian women are the primary victims of sexual violence, and ultimately they are the intended recipients of the message: Stay home, your input in government and politics is not wanted.

Read the rest of Burleigh’s analysis at CNN.

In other news,

Bolivian officials laughing hysterically at the media for buying their tall tale

Bolivian officials laughing hysterically at the media for buying their tall tale

We learned yesterday afternoon that the claims that Bolivian president Evo Morales’ plane was refused permission to fly over France, Italy, and Spain were totally false and that no one forced his plane to land in Austria. See this article at The Atlantic for a complete debunking of the story.

But many so-called progressives are still pushing the false narrative that President Obama somehow was responsible. I was surprised to see Taylor Marsh hyping it this morning, and there has been no correction to Kevin Drum’s nasty claim that Obama behaved like “a Chicago thug.” That was originally in Drum’s headline until commenters told him he was pushing a Tea Party meme and he moved the accusation to the end of his post.

Marsh is also claiming we didn’t know about the extent of NSA spying a year ago. Really? If you agree with her, you might want to check out this detailed article on the NSA spying programs in the Wall Street Journal–dated March 10, 2008. And of course that wasn’t the first time the corporate media covered the story either. All the progs claiming utter shock and awe over Snowden’s revelations should be ashamed of themselves.

I don’t want to completely depress you, so let’s turn to some non-political news. I found a couple interesting science stories on Google this morning.

Here’s some exciting news out of Boston (NYT): After Marrow Transplants, 2 More Patients Appear H.I.V.-Free Without Drugs.

Two H.I.V.-infected patients in Boston who had bone-marrow transplants for blood cancers have apparently been virus-free for weeks since their antiretroviral drugs were stopped, researchers at an international AIDS conference announced Wednesday.

The patients’ success echoes that of Timothy Ray Brown, the famous “Berlin patient,” who has shown no signs of resurgent virus in the five years since he got a bone-marrow transplant from a donor with a rare mutation conferring resistance to H.I.V.

The Boston cases, like Mr. Brown’s, are of no practical use to the 34 million people in the world who have H.I.V. but neither blood cancer nor access to premier cancer-treatment hospitals.

But AIDS experts still find the Boston cases exciting because they are another step in the long and so-far-fruitless search for a cure. They offer encouragement to ambitious future projects to genetically re-engineer infected patients’ cells to be infection-resistant. At least two teams are already experimenting with variants on this idea, said Dr. Steven G. Deeks, an AIDS researcher at the University of California, San Francisco.

It’s real progress, even though the treatment won’t be widely available for a long time.

From BBC News:  Active brain ‘keeps dementia at bay’

A lifetime of mental challenges leads to slower cognitive decline after factoring out dementia’s impact on the brain, US researchers say.

The study, published in Neurology, adds weight to the idea that dementia onset can be delayed by lifestyle factors….

In a US study, 294 people over the age of 55 were given tests that measured memory and thinking, every year for about six years until their deaths.

They also answered a questionnaire about whether they read books, wrote letters and took part in other activities linked to mental stimulation during childhood, adolescence, middle age, and in later life.

After death, their brains were examined for evidence of the physical signs of dementia, such as brain lesions and plaques.

The study found that after factoring out the impact of those signs, those who had a record of keeping the brain busy had a rate of cognitive decline estimated at 15% slower than those who did not.

That’s some impressive empirical evidence for something many of us have long suspected. So maybe we are helping keep our brains young through our obsession with reading and arguing about politics on the internet!

I’ll end with a recommendation that you listen to this NPR story on the history of “The Star Spangled Banner” and how it became our national anthem. It’s only about 8 minutes long. Or you can just read the article. I thought it was really interesting.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? If you’re headed out for barbeques and family gatherings instead of surfing the net, have a wonderful time and drop in for a minute if you can.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY EVERYONE!!


Sunday Reads: Potpourri

194Good Morning

Today’s post is bringing you a mixture of different links, a potpourri if you will…

But before we get to the bowl of fragrant, colorful, natural, synthetic, faded, smelly, moldy, dried, limp, withered reads, let us touch on something that I find hilariously ironic.

Look at this headline:

5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day

I don’t think there is anything else to say about that. Except maybe add this nugget of news from TPM:

Yep, Big Liars

It seems that the Obama kids are not protected by armed guards at the Sidwell Friends School.

I would not go so far as to say that the NRA are big liars, cough, but you decide.

Another headline for you:

Obama’s Plan May Put More Guns in Schools

Personally, I think that there should be mandatory full-time armed police person inside schools…and that they should be paid from a tax on ammunition. But I feel strongly, and passionately, that these armed individuals should not be volunteers, teachers, janitors and/or any vigilante obsessed gun-toting “concerned” citizens.

Okay then, moving right along, the links today are going to be in link dump fashion, since my head is killing me and this computer screen is burning my eyes.

The first couple of links I have for you are chilling and extremely disturbing. Be sure to read them in full.

Is PTSD Contagious? It’s rampant among returning vets—and now their spouses and kids are starting to show the same symptoms. Mac McClelland | Mother Jones

After reading Mac’s article, I think it is fair to say…yes, PTSD is contagious.

Coupled with these infographics that tell a sad story: Charts: Suicide, PTSD and the Psychological Toll on America’s Vets | Mother Jones

Another post that is related to traumatic experiences: Can Eye Movements Treat Trauma?: Scientific American

Studies are showing that moving your eyes back and forth like a ping-pong ball can help deal with PTSD. The technique is called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

This next article discusses Afghanistan: The 13-Year War- As we draw closer to the withdrawal in Afghanistan promised at the close of 2014, a look back at America’s longest war.

Emptywheel takes a look at the connection between Adam Swartz and the government’s investigation into Wikileaks. The Fishing Expedition into WikiLeaks

Here is an update on the ongoing hunt for pythons in Florida’s Everglades: Florida’s python update: 21 caught so far in Everglades hunt

And another update on the story we’ve followed about those possible Spitfires in Burma: No ‘lost Spitfires’ buried in Burma-Dig near Rangoon International Airport proves fruitless but Lincolnshire farmer insists search will continue elsewhere in the country

Want to see a list of Representatives who did not vote for Sandy aid? MAP: In These 22 States, Every House Republican Voted Against Sandy Aid

Take a look at this photo, it is still a messy situation.

Almost three months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, the GOP-controlled House approved a bill that provides $50.7 billion in disaster relief for the storm’s victims. While passage of the bill is being hailed as a bipartisan success by some (the vote was 241-180), a closer look at how the parties voted by state lines indicates otherwise. GOPers overwhelmingly voted against funding—unless, of course, their state was hard hit.

In 22 states, every last Republican representative voted against HR 152 or abstained on the bill, which includes $17 billion for immediate repair and an amendment introduced by a Republican, New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, that tacks on another $33.7 billion for long-term recovery and prevention. These included Maryland and the Carolinas (remember Hugo and Floyd?), states that are vulnerable to seasonal hurricanes but were largely spared by Sandy.

And…in the plastic yuk department: Plastics Suck Up Other Toxins: Double Whammy for Marine Life, Gross for Seafood

Combine that with the yuk from Coke’s sugary drinks: Coke: Wait, People Thought Vitaminwater Was Good for You?

Makes you think, what the hell are we doing to ourselves?

If it doesn’t make you question our self-destructive actions, this next link will…Labiaplasty: An investigation of the most popular trend in the field of ‘vaginal rejuvenation’ surgery.

Kirsten O’Regan: Labiaplasty, Part I – Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

Kirsten O’Regan: Labiaplasty, Part II – Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

You may need some eye bleach and a break from reading after that article. Ooof!

Why would any woman do that to herself? I mean, that is just fucked-up.

Couldn’t they just “think” about it and get the same benefit, if you could call it that. Check this out: AsapSCIENCE Demonstrates The Power Of Imagination- Thinking About Doing Something Is Pretty Much The Same As Doing It [Video] | Geekosystem

Ready for a strange and uncomfortable fact to start your Friday morning? Sure you are, and here it is, courtesy of the fine cartoonists and deep thinkers over at AsapSCIENCE: when you think deeply about a thing — seeing the letter ‘B,’ for example, or fixing a sandwich — the same parts of your brain involved in performing that action light up. Some studies even suggest that you can improve your piano skills just by thinking diligently about playing while not actually touching a piano. Check out AsapSCIENCE’s latest video below and learn more about how your brain is just weird sometimes.

Well, I guess all of us procrastinators will appreciate that video. (I won’t even begin to try and fix the f’d up grammar in that sentence.)

I’ve got another video for you:   The deer that thinks it’s a sheep | Earth | EarthSky

Photo courtesy the National Trust, UK

You will love this video. The deer attached himself to the sheep in early December 2012. He shows no sign of leaving.

Have you all seen this bit of twisted news in the world of ballet?

Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin ‘blinded’ by acid attack that left him with chemical burns- The former ballet star had acid thrown in his face by a man – it is thought the attack is linked to his position

Bolshoi ballet director Sergei Filin severely injured in acid attack -Doctors fighting to save eyesight of former dancer after assailant threw acid in his face outside central Moscow home

Wow, this post is getting long, and I am very late in getting it posted. Quickly…here are the rest of the links I have saved to share with you today.

Today it is the 100th birthday of Danny Kaye. From MovieMorlocks.com – Happy 100th, Danny!

Also from Movie Morlocks, some wonderful photography:  William Edward Cronenweth: A Legacy in Photos

More science links:

Scientists shed light on the ‘dark matter’ of DNA

Innovative approach results in improved writing skills at primary school

And finally, a travel piece: Swept away by a Sicilian symphony

Have a great day…and enjoy those links!


Sunday Reads Funky Link Dump, James Brown Style

130534089169830531_A8rt5YUL_cGood Morning

Still feeling down in the dumps today, so forgive the sparse content. Hopefully these links are not repeats…

I have not had a chance to read this first link…yet. Kurt Eichenwald: Let’s Repeal the Second Amendment | Vanity Fair

Haven’t read this one either:  6 Biggest Religious Right Threats to America | Alternet

Something on gun control: Muhlberger’s World History: The Bonfire of the Vanities

Check out these official pictures from the White House 2012:

From the silly to the somber, White House photos show 2012 highlights – TODAY News

White House photos 2012; candid snapshots of President, first family released | GlobalPost

A few science articles:

This first link needs a bit of funk to make it right:

How Corn Syrup Might Be Making Us Hungry-and Fat

If you have what James Brown likes…then you may also suffer from Fatty Liver.

One thing that can help with this next link about Fatty Liver, is to get a little more active:

Scientists develop new compound that reverses fatty liver disease

Muscle weakness in Down syndrome: New study offers insights

‘Black Beauty’ meteorite could yield Martian secrets

Which spiral arm of the Milky Way contains our sun?

For Dakinikat…it isn’t about old grave discoveries, but it still has a touch of death to it: Dried squash holds headless French king’s blood, study finds

Another one for Dak, Maya Funerary Vessel Represents “Tremor 8” – Archaeology Magazine

For Boston Boomer, you may find this interesting: Language Acquisition Could Begin In The Womb | Geekosystem

Is it a man’s world? Now for some mood music, for the next few links about Women’s Rights and Women in History:

Annie Lennox has a blog she writes at: Annie Lennox Calls For Action On Women’s Rights In 2013 – Starpulse.com

Here is direct link to it: Annie Lennox – Official Website

Maybe  Women’s Rights will have a louder voice now: 101 Facts About 100 Women of the House and Senate

History looks at Viking Women: Don’t underestimate Viking women | Medieval News

Another one on religion, and women’s influence in culture: Research uncovers how single and widowed women shaped the religious culture of colonial Latin America

Strange news: 15-year-old girl with missing moniker set to sue Icelandic government in fight to legally use her name

Sick twisted doctors…10 Derailed Doctors Who Creatively Abused Their Patients

An iconic song turns 30: ‘Billie Jean’: Michael Jackson’s landmark single turns 30 | theGrio

A very cool picture of Mt. Everest…and a very cool idea:  Toys inspire giant ‘dandelion’ anti-mine device

Video of a big ass plane landing at a tiny airport.

Video of the same big ass plane taking off from a tiny airport.

Video of a cartoon we have all seen before, but should watch again.

A few movie reviews:

Richard Schickel: Seven Movies I Liked in 2012 (and One I Didn’t)

This Amanda Marcotte review of Django Unchained is good, she gets it:  Django Unchained: A Movie About Other Movies About the 19th Century

And…another review…about Django…only this one asks the wrong question: How Accurate Is Quentin Tarantino’s Portrayal of Slavery in Django Unchained? : The New Yorker

And one more:  Wagner with Guns by Christopher Benfey | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Sticking with the movie topic a bit more: alicublog: I LOST IT AT THE MOVIES.

Now for an actor who is Super Bad, and one of my favorites, bet you can guess who that is?

An interview with my man: Samuel L. Jackson is right about bad Hollywood endings, but then real life isn’t much better

I wonder if this film will be made in time for the 2016 campaign season: Tennessee Guerilla Women: Hillary Clinton’s Life, Soon to Be a Hollywood Movie

And…its a squatch! One of those elusive Georgia Redneck Big Foots! Yup, a few of them are getting together to talk about another kind of Bigfoot…Inaugural Southeastern Bigfoot Conference being held in Dahlonega

More fantastic Bigfoot reads:

Top 10 Reasons Bigfoot Probably Doesn’t Exist

Bigfoot or Good Foot you decide:

Have a fantastic Sunday…and hope everyone is feeling good!


Late Night Funnies: You Can’t Fix Stupid

Good Evening!! JJ is taking the night off, so I hunted down some cartoons. I hope you’ll find something here to your taste.

I found a few about Todd “dumb as a box of rocks” Akin.

Akin is a member of the House Science Committee.

Maybe Men’s bodies secrete a substance that aids male pattern baldness?

Some people are saying that Mitt Romney is grateful to Akin for distracting voters from his secret, hidden tax returns.

How does he do it? He’s ignoring all the rules and getting away with it!

Poor Mitt. Everyone is beating up on him over his taxes. Why won’t they just make him king and get it over with?

Under the Ryan plan, Romney may not have to pay any taxes at all!

Romney and his sidekick Paul Ryan are hoping to bamboozle voters about their plans to end Medicare.

Romney and Ryan have now admitted that they plan to throw younger seniors off medicare and raise the eligibility age to 67.

I sure hope we can head off the Romney/Ryan apocalypse!

Next week is the Republican National Convention. With all the breaking controversies, maybe it will be less boring than we have been expecting.

Have a great night everyone!!


Thursday Reads: Mitt Romney, Casino Capitalist, and Other News

Good Morning!

I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing holiday. There wasn’t a whole lot of news breaking yesterday, but I read some good reactions to the Vanity Fair Story on the many overseas tax shelters that Mitt’s Romney uses to hide his money.

Mitt Romney, Casino Capitalist

At the Nation, Ben Adler worked up an excellent summary of the VF article, highlighting the main points. Here’s his summary of a particularly disturbing part–the possibility that Bain was laundering money money for some questionable people.

§ Did Bain serve as a tax haven for foreign criminals? As Shaxson explains, “Private equity is one channel for this secrecy-shrouded foreign money to enter the United States, and a filing for Mitt Romney’s first $37 million Bain Capital Fund, of 1984, provides a rare window into this. One foreign investor, of $2 million, was the newspaper tycoon, tax evader, and fraudster Robert Maxwell, who fell from his yacht, and drowned, off of the Canary Islands in 1991 in strange circumstances, after looting his company’s pension fund. The Bain filing also names Eduardo Poma, a member of one of the ‘14 families’ oligarchy that has controlled most of El Salvador’s wealth for decades; oddly, Poma is listed as sharing a Miami address with two anonymous companies that invested $1.5 million between them. The filings also show a Geneva-based trustee overseeing a trust that invested $2.5 million, a Bahamas corporation that put in $3 million, and three corporations in the tax haven of Panama, historically a favored destination for Latin-American dirty money—’one of the filthiest money-laundering sinks in the world,’ as a US Customs official once put it.”

Politico seemed disapproving of the Obama campaign calling attention to the VF piece. The headline seems to suggest that it is somehow unseemly to refer to an opponent’s tax evasion methods.

From Obama campaign spokseman Ben LaBolt, on a call with Ohio reporters:

“Today we’re learning more about Mitt Romney’s bets against America. Vanity Fair’s raising important questions about Romney’s offshore accounts in foreign tax havens, including his mysterious corporation in Bermuda, his funds in the Cayman Islands, and the Swiss bank account he opened. The question is, why? Was he avoiding paying his fair share of U.S. taxes? Was he hedging against the dollar? Until he releases his tax returns from that period, Americans will never know. This raises serious questions. If he has nothing to hide, why doesn’t he just release his tax returns?”

And from Bill Burton, at Priorities:

“Today’s Vanity Fair article confirms what the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported but the Romney campaign falsely denied. Unlike the vast majority of Americans who pay their fair share of taxes, Mitt Romney is avoiding taxes by stashing millions of dollars in the Cayman Islands. This matters in the presidential campaign because it is just these types of loopholes for the wealthy that Romney would protect, forcing more of the tax burden onto the middle class.

Those seem like pretty good questions to me.

RalphB posted this AP article in the comments yesterday: Mystery Bermuda-based company and other undisclosed Romney assets hint at larger wealth

For nearly 15 years, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose.

Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney’s state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning — suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign.

The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney’s ethics filings, and he has never been cited for failing to disclose information about his money. But Romney’s limited disclosures deprive the public of an accurate depiction of his wealth and a clear understanding of how his assets are handled and taxed, according to experts in private equity, tax and campaign finance law.

Romney reported this holding on his 2010 tax form, but he did not disclose it when he ran for governor in 2001-02, even though he was required to do so. Pretty sleazy. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations on this ethics violation has expired.

Paul Krugman blogged about Romney yesterday: Off And Out With Mitt Romney.

It appears that the Obama campaign has decided to ignore the queasiness of Democrats with Wall Street ties, and go after Mitt Romney’s record at Bain. And rightly so!

After all, what is Romney’s case – that is, why does he want us to think he should be president? It’s not about ideology: Romney offers nothing but warmed-over right-wing platitudes, with an extra helping of fraudulent arithmetic, and it’s fairly obvious that even he himself doesn’t believe anything he’s saying.

Instead, his thing is competence: supposedly, his record as a successful businessman should tell us that he knows how to create jobs….[but] even if Romney were a true captain of industry, a latter-day Andrew Carnegie, this wouldn’t be a strong qualification.

In any case, however, Romney wasn’t that kind of businessman. He didn’t build businesses, he bought and sold them – sometimes restructuring them in ways that added jobs, often in ways that preserved profits but destroyed jobs, and fairly often in ways that extracted money for Bain but killed the business in the process….

Or put it a different way: Romney wasn’t so much a captain of industry as a captain of deindustrialization, making big profits for his firm (and himself) by helping to dismantle the implicit social contract that used to make America a middle-class society.

I particularly want to recommend a brilliant essay in The Nation by Robert Reich: Mitt Romney and the New Gilded Age. Reich has really dedicated himself to standing up for the 99% this year, and this piece really brings it all together and holds Romney up as the perfect symbol of “casino capitalism.”

Connect the dots of casino capitalism, and you get Mitt Romney. The fortunes raked in by financial dealmakers depend on special goodies baked into the tax code such as “carried interest,” which allows Romney and other partners in private-equity firms (as well as in many venture-capital and hedge funds) to treat their incomes as capital gains taxed at a maximum of
15 percent. This is how Romney managed to pay an average of 14 percent on more than $42 million of combined income in 2010 and 2011. But the carried-interest loophole makes no economic sense. Conservatives try to justify the tax code’s generous preference for capital gains as a reward to risk-takers—but Romney and other private-equity partners risk little, if any, of their personal wealth. They mostly bet with other investors’ money, including the pension savings of average working people. You can check out easyslots.com.

Another goodie allows private-equity partners to sock away almost any amount of their earnings into a tax-deferred IRA, while the rest of us are limited to a few thousand dollars a year. The partners can merely low-ball the value of whatever portion of their investment partnership they put away—even valuing it at zero—because the tax code considers a partnership interest to have value only in the future. This explains how Romney’s IRA is worth as much as $101 million. The tax code further subsidizes private equity and much of the rest of the financial sector by making interest on debt tax-deductible, while taxing profits and dividends. This creates huge incentives for financiers to find ways of substituting debt for equity and is a major reason America’s biggest banks have leveraged America to the hilt. It’s also why Romney’s Bain and other private-equity partnerships have done the same to the companies they buy.

These maneuvers shift all the economic risk to debtors, who sometimes can’t repay what they owe. That’s rarely a problem for the financiers who engineer the deals; they’re sufficiently diversified to withstand some losses, or they’ve already taken their profits and moved on. But piles of debt play havoc with the lives of real people in the real economy when the companies they work for can’t meet their payments, or the banks they rely on stop lending money, or the contractors they depend on go broke—often with the result that they can’t meet their own debt payments and lose their homes, cars and savings.

Reich notes that if Romney were to win the White House, he would be very different from past wealthy presidents.

We’ve had wealthy presidents before, but they have been traitors to their class—Teddy Roosevelt storming against the “malefactors of great wealth” and busting up the trusts, Franklin Roosevelt railing against the “economic royalists” and raising their taxes, John F. Kennedy appealing to the conscience of the nation to conquer poverty. Romney is the opposite: he wants to do everything he can to make the superwealthy even wealthier and the poor even poorer, and he justifies it all with a thinly veiled social Darwinism.

Obama should be holding Romney up as the personification of all that brought the economy to its knees in 2008. Why aren’t the Democrats screaming from the rooftops about it?

Part of the answer, surely, is that elected Democrats are still almost as beholden to the wealthy for campaign funds as the Republicans, and don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. Wall Street can give most of its largesse to Romney this year and still have enough left over to tame many influential Democrats (look at the outcry from some of them when the White House took on Bain Capital). But I suspect a deeper reason for their reticence is that if they connect the dots and reveal Romney for what he is—the epitome of what’s fundamentally wrong with our economy—they’ll be admitting how serious our economic problems really are. They would have to acknowledge that the economic catastrophe that continues to cause us so much suffering is, at its root, a product of the gross inequality of income, wealth and political power in America’s new Gilded Age, as well as the perverse incentives of casino capitalism if you bother to check out these no deposit mobile casinos and connect the dots.

Please go read the whole thing. You won’t regret it.

In other news,

The Sun has been very active lately.

(SPACE.com) The sun is unleashing some powerful solar flares today (July 4) in an impressive celestial fireworks display just in time for the U.S. Independence Day holiday.

The latest solar flare erupted at 5:47 a.m. EDT (0947 GMT) and hit its peak strength eight minutes later. The flare fired off from the active sunspot AR1515 and registered as a class M5.3 solar storm on the scale used by astronomers to measure space weather, according to the Space Weather Prediction Group operated by NOAA.

Class M solar flares are powerful, but still medium-strength, sun storms that can supercharge northern lights displays on Earth. The weakest of the sun’s strong solar flares are C-class storms.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft currently watching the sun also captured another solar flare this morning that reached M2 on the sun storm scale.

“As the United States is observing Independence Day, active region 1515 unleashed another M2-class solar flare,” SDO scientists wrote in an announcement posted to the mission’s Facebook and YouTube sites. The flare peaked at 12:37 a.m. EDT (0437 GMT), they added.

Here’s a video of solar flares that took place on July 4, 2012.

Breathtaking!

TV doctor Drew Pinsky, AKA Dr. Drew, is being looked at by the Feds in the GlaxoSmithKline case.

One of Glaxo’s blockbuster drugs was Wellbutrin, which was approved by the FDA to treat depression. Starting in 1999, the Justice Department says, the company “engaged in a nationwide scheme” to promote the drug to treat other conditions including weight problems, addictions, and sexual dysfunction. Pinsky was one of the experts paid to tout Wellbutrin, according to the complaint filed against Glaxo by government prosecutors….

The federal complaint says Cooney Waters, a public-relations firm hired by Glaxo to promote Wellbutrin, “hired Dr. Drew Pinsky from MTV and Loveline as a spokesperson to deliver messages about WBSR [Wellbutrin] in settings where it did not appear that Dr. Pinsky was speaking for WBSR.”

Apparently Pinsky hasn’t specifically been accused of any crime.  He told The Daily Beast that he was paid $275,000 to discuss “intimacy and depression” in a number of settings and media. He claims that all of his “comments were consistent with my clinical experience.”

Here’s one example from the federal complaint:

Pinsky said one of the ingredients in Wellbutrin “could explain a woman suddenly having 60 orgasms in one night.” The complaint against Glaxo says “Dr. Pinsky explained that one of the things he advocates for people experiencing diminished libido or arousal” is Wellbutrin.

Stephen Hawking said that he had to pay off a $100 bet that the Higgs boson particle would never be discovered. He says Peter Higgs should get the Nobel Price for predicting it.

A sunken land bridge that once was home to “tens of thousands” of people has been discovered in the North Sea between Scotland and Denmark.

‘Britain’s Atlantis’ – a hidden underwater world swallowed by the North Sea – has been discovered by divers working with science teams from the University of St Andrews.
Doggerland, a huge area of dry land that stretched from Scotland to Denmark was slowly submerged by water between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC.

Divers from oil companies have found remains of a ‘drowned world’ with a population of tens of thousands – which might once have been the ‘real heartland’ of Europe.

A team of climatologists, archaeologists and geophysicists has now mapped the area using new data from oil companies – and revealed the full extent of a ‘lost land’ once roamed by mammoths….

The area was once the ‘real heartland’ of Europe and was hit by ‘a devastating tsunami’, the researchers claim. The wave was part of a larger process that submerged the low-lying area over the course of thousands of years.

Those are my recommendations for today.  Now it’s your turn.  What are you reading and blogging about?


What Really Makes Us Fat

Let’s face it. People feel the fat-antifat kerfuffle is a struggle between good and evil. Gluttony is bad! It’s not gluttony. It’s a disease! It’s not a disease. It’s genetics. It’s okay. It is not okay.  You haven’t read the latest positive waist trainer reviews. And so on and on.

Folks, we’re talking about biology. It could be all of the above and then some. “Then some” is actually my preferred answer and I’ll discuss it in a bit. But in the meantime, it’s worth remembering that none of the above are mutually exclusive. The answers vary from person to person and there is no single thing that is true for everyone, or even for one person all the time. As they say on Facebook, it’s complicated. In that spirit, it’s well worth looking at research that tells us about parts of the answer.

Gary Taubes writes about a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Ebbeling et al., 2012) on What Really Makes Us Fat:

[T]he study tells us that the nutrient composition of the diet can trigger the predisposition to get fat, independent of the calories consumed. The fewer carbohydrates we eat, the more easily we remain lean. The more carbohydrates, the more difficult. In other words, carbohydrates are fattening, and obesity is a fat-storage defect. What matters, then, is the quantity and quality of carbohydrates we consume and their effect on insulin.

Chalk one up for the Atkins Diet, but don’t therefore assume the American Heart Association is “wrong” when it tells you to eat a low-fat diet of whole grains, fruits and veggies. The AHA is trying to help your heart. Their advice is perfectly good for your heart. The Atkins Diet is trying to help you lose weight. This research says it does. It says nothing about your cholesterol or the kidney-damaging effects of long term excess protein, especially in people with borderline kidney disease they may be unaware of.

The research shows an interesting piece of the obesity puzzle, but unless fat storage regulation is the biggest reason for obesity, it’s not actually going to deal with the epidemic. And the biggest causes can’t be fat storage regulation gone awry. Human physiology hasn’t changed in the last few decades. We have the same fat-storage hormones we’ve always had. Likewise, people have always wanted to eat too much. Nor have our genetics changed a whole hell of a lot in the last few dozen years. And yet obesity (as medically defined and meaning more than mere overweight) has gone from being a rather rare issue to being a problem for a third of all US adults.

The thing that’s missing in too many current discussions of the obesity epidemic is environmental effects. This is not a comment on the research, because that wasn’t its topic. But every single discussion for the general public needs to beat that drum until we all get it. Environmental factors are the only ones that have changed recently. Plus, that explains why we have an epidemic. Epidemics are public health issues, and they’re all embedded in the environment.

The reason it’s so important for everyone to understand the biggest causes is because obesity really is an epidemic, and it really is destroying the health of millions. It’s causing and will continue to cause horrible suffering in people who go blind or need amputations due to diabetic complications, or who become paralyzed after strokes. This stuff is no joke. Nor is it just a conspiracy by the fashion industry (although it’s that too). To the extent that obesity damages health, it’s vital — literally — to understand and fix the real causes and not to waste time on sacrificial food offerings to gods who don’t care.

I think two environmental factors stand out like sore thumbs.

  • Advertising for fat-making food and drink
  • Endocrine disruptor environmental pollution

You may not think of ads as an environmental factor, but what I mean by that is it’s out there, in your environment, and not something you control. You can’t simply ignore ads, no matter how many people blithely tell you to. Ads have their effect whether or not you pay attention. Your only real choice is to turn them off. An individual can choose to eschew most media, but on a population level, that’s not going to happen.

So we’re in an environment saturated with unavoidable messages to have fun with food. At the population level, some proportion of people some of the time will find themselves wanting that food, wanting that cola, and taking it. At the population level, some proportion of people get more calories than they otherwise would. And some proportion of them get fat.

It’s important to remember that getting fat, being a biological process, is not a simple matter of balancing calories in and calories used. Nothing in biology is simple. Calories in is a factor, certainly. If it wasn’t, you’d see fat people among famine sufferers.

But how the body stores fat stands right between the two halves of the equation. That is a complicated, hormonally controlled process we’re only beginning to understand. Insulin is one of those hormones, but only one. Sex hormones are also among the messengers that carry out the regulation. The starkest example of fat storage gone crazy is rare genetic conditions where the body’s hormones that promote fat storage are so active, they don’t leave enough glucose circulating in the blood for metabolic needs. Everything goes into fat, there’s too little left over for the business of staying alive, and the person is literally starving while putting on weight.

A big contribution of Ebbeling’s and her colleagues’ research is demonstrating the subtle effect of fat storage regulation that’s within the normal range. And since hormones are part of that process, hormone disruption can be expected to have a huge effect on fat deposition.

Which brings me to the second big environmental factor: a whole group of chemicals. They’re called hormone disruptors and they come from some plastics, pesticides, hormonal medicines, and so on. Those break down into hormone analogues and get into the environment. As I said in an earlier post on the Obesity Epidemic, if hormones help regulate energy balance, and if we’ve flooded the environment with bad substitutes for hormones, is it any wonder that people are having trouble regulating energy balance?

So, you may be asking, what does it all mean? What are we supposed to do about it? I’ve said it before so I’ll just say it again:

Like all public health issues, nothing less than a population-level approach will work. Dysentery, cholera, and typhoid are never wiped out by drinking boiled water. They’re wiped out by building municipal sewers. Smallpox wasn’t eradicated by avoiding smallpox patients. It was eradicated by universal vaccination. The individual actions aren’t useless. They just don’t change the widespread causes of the widespread problem.

Modern health problems like cancer and obesity aren’t going to be wiped out by eating fresh vegetables. Eating veggies is good, but it doesn’t address the basic problem. That’s going to take nothing less than a change to clean sustainable industry.

It’s almost enough to make you wish a mere diet really was all that’s needed.